Rev. Jesse Jackson already planned to attend Arbery trial when lawyer urged that Black pastors stay away

By Melanie Eversley
NABJ Black News & Views

One day before he and dozens of other Black pastors were due to appear at a courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, where the accused murderers of Ahmaud Arbery are on trial, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told Black News & Views that the world might be surprised by the verdict.

Looking rested despite his recent battle with coronavirus and his ongoing battle against Parkinson’s disease, Jackson said Wednesday that there are good people in rural Georgia who do not like the prospect of accused murderers in their midst. Speaking from a hotel in Brunswick, he also said that his appearance in the courtroom with Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, after defense lawyer Kevin Gough said Black pastors were not wanted in the courtroom had already been planned.

Jackson, who turned 80 last month and celebrated in New York with Rev. Al Sharpton and others, said he is torn about his presence in Brunswick because he is involved in other cases around the country in which he is advocating for Black people.

One case is that of Jelani Day, the 25-year-old Illinois State University graduate student whose decomposed body was found in the Illinois River in September, 10 days after he was reported missing. Another case involves Julius Jones, scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma Thursday.

Kim Kardashian and other celebrities have joined a growing mass of people imploring Gov. Kevin Stitt to commute his sentence to life in prison. Jones, 41, was convicted for a 1999 murder and carjacking. He maintains he is innocent and was framed by a former friend.

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